Top Tips for Portfolio Management

Learn about portfolio management and how to manage an entire portfolio of projects based on standard project management principles.


Hello, I’m Jennifer Bridges, Director at Well, hello, and welcome to our whiteboard session today on What Is Portfolio Management?¬†Well, I think this has become one of the most confusing topics that there is in project management and it’s really quite simple. I think sometimes we make things complex, so hopefully this will simplify things somewhat.

So typically a portfolio is nothing but a collection of projects or programs, and they can be related or non-related. So when we look at managing a portfolio, we look at what are the things we need to do to manage multiple projects or programs in our portfolio?

So these are some of the steps that I think are critical in considering as we go along and we’re managing multiple things in the portfolio. So number one is selection, the selection of projects that are proved to go inside a portfolio. Typically, a portfolio is set to accomplish a specific business objective, and they’re put together in a portfolio to meet that objective. So it’s selection of projects to go into that portfolio, and then there’s the prioritization.

So within the portfolio there are certain priorities that are determined to see which ones are the higher priority when it comes to decisions, budgets, and resources. So it’s selecting and then prioritizing. Then we kick off the projects or the programs in that portfolio. Once the projects or programs are kicked off, then again it’s back to managing and tracking the projects or programs. So it’s the management of those, and specifically, closely managing the time, the cost, the scope, and the resources within the projects or the programs so that we can keep the portfolio intact.

Then there’s the reporting. It’s deciding what reporting is needed and to who, at what detail, and what do we need to measure and track and report on along the way? Then it’s communications, keeping the people responsible for the portfolio. They’re the stakeholders, the change the control board, the teams all involved in the projects and the programs within that portfolio, letting them know what’s continuing to happen.

Because, as we know from experience their priorities change, and things change around. So keeping everyone informed about the health and the wealth of the portfolio because, again, that portfolio is designed to meet a specific business objective.

So, some of the keywords I think are important is juggling, because we’re juggling multiple things. We’re juggling multiple projects, and in some cases multiple programs, which also include multiple projects. So it’s juggling. It’s keeping balance and knowing sometimes things are going to be out of balance, and if they’re out of balance, measuring and tracking that within the portfolio.

Then awareness, it’s critical to have awareness of all the moving parts going along and it’s a lot to manage within the portfolio. It’s important to know your environment and what causes the ups and downs of the different variables within your projects and in your portfolio, again, all in the effort of managing the health and the wealth of that portfolio.

So if you think about different portfolios that you may be personally tied to, or your own financial portfolio, so you know within a financial portfolio, you have multiple things. You have stocks, bonds, you have cash reserves, something like T-bills or treasury bills, as stocks are up, bonds are down. If bonds are up, stocks are down, but your cash reserves trying to keep those on hand just in case you need them for emergency cases, and then maybe treasury bills, something to keep in your portfolio to maintain it stabilized.

So with all those components you may have ups and downs. Then you have some things in your portfolio that keep it stabilized. That way you keep the health and the wealth of that portfolio.

Same thing, so you think of behaviors, the behaviors of the different items and the portfolios. But take an art portfolio. Some of you may be artists and you have an art portfolio and you think of preferences. So within an art portfolio, you may have things that are your preference to work on or maybe your favorites, so some things you may work on because it’s more fun. It may be sexier. Or some may be more profitable. Well I want to work on this because I sell it the most and I make the most profit. But this over here is more fun.

Then a business portfolio, business portfolio thinking of results, sometimes the projects in a business portfolio, they’re in there to expand business. Some projects within the portfolio are there to support the community and the growth of the community in certain projects that the company is supporting, and then also to meet regulations, maybe federal regulations or guidelines that are critical to meet. So within that, if you have a business portfolio, again, managing all of those and the ups and downs, but within that portfolio keeping the health and the wealth.

So these are some of the things to think about. These are some of the keywords that are important and just a few steps and, again, really thinking about what’s inside the portfolio, and maybe it won’t sound as complex as sometimes we tend to make them. If you need any additional tips, tools, or techniques to manage your portfolio and keep the health and wealth of it then visit us at

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